By October 1915 women were starting to move into the jobs left vacant by enlisted men, a fact reported in a somewhat ‘who would have thought it’ style by the Shipley Times and Express. Winifred Harrison was the first woman to be employed as booking clerk at Shipley railway station. The daughter of the stationmaster, she took up the position in May 1915, replacing George Skinner, who was now fighting in the Dardanelles. ‘And so well has she performed the duties devolving upon her that the other day a responsible official was heard to say that the company would
have every reason to be satisfied if all clerks were as good as Miss Harrison. ‘The truth is that the girl has taken to her work like a duck takes to water and most people who go to the station have remarked on the enthusiastic way in which she devotes herself to everything she does. Miss Harrison, who was often accompanied when working alone in the evening by her dog ‘Prince’ spent much of  her spare time collecting cigarettes which she sent to the men serving at the front. On the same day the newspaper reported that two women had started work, replacing postmen who had gone to war.
The first was Miss Calvert of 25 Ferrand Road and she was followed two weeks later by Miss Cooke of 223 Bradford Road. ‘Miss Calvert’s impressions were readily given to an “Express” representative who called upon her. Cycled to Morecambe ‘She offered her services through the Labour Exchange and the offer was accepted. She delivers and collects the letters at Esholt twice each day and travels to and from Shipley on a bicycle.’ This would have been of little trouble to a woman who had recently cycled to Morecambe and back and she clearly wasn’t deterred either by the anti-social hours.
‘She begins the day’s work at ten minutes to six in the morning and is kept busy until a quarter to eleven. At three o’clock in the afternoon she turns out again and only finishes a strenuous day at 8.20 at night.’ Formerly a dressmaker, Miss Calvert said she had received kindness from staff and the public, citing a farmer’s wife in Esholt who put a glass of milk out on the window sill for her each day. She admitted ‘she has not found the work everything that could be desired but what the “boys” are doing in the trenches makes her anxious to “stick” it. Miss Cooke also said she was enjoying the work and felt she was doing something for King and country. ‘Everybody is kind to me and that goes a long way to lighten the task.’
Home Page Home Page Home Page Winifred Harrison with Prince
Women move seamlessly into jobs the men left behind
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